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Arbitrator: Former state official was fired as a "public scapegoat" in Flint Water Crisis

 Liane Shekter Smith (file photo)
Steve Carmody
/
Michigan Radio
Liane Shekter Smith (file photo)

An arbitrator has ruled the only state official fired in connection to the Flint water crisis is owed nearly $200,000 in back pay and other compensation.

The Associated Press obtained the arbitrator’s 22-page report on the case of Liane Shekter Smith. She served as head of the state's drinking water office when Flint's water system was contaminated with lead.

Shekter Smith was demoted and then fired in 2016. Prosecutors later filed numerous charges against her and other government officials as part of a criminal investigation into the Flint water crisis. Shekter Smith eventually entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge, which carried no jail time.

But the arbitrator finds she was a "public scapegoat," saying the state failed to show cause to fire Shekter Smith.

The report noted state engineers who had a direct role in Flint were suspended with pay and later allowed to return to work.

The arbitrator is ordering $191,880 in back pay and other compensation for Liane Shekter Smith.

The Michigan environmental agency declined to comment Wednesday but said an appeal of the arbitrator’s decision was being considered.

Copyright 2021 Michigan Radio

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting. During his two and a half decades in broadcasting, Steve has won numerous awards, including accolades from the Associated Press and Radio and Television News Directors Association. Away from the broadcast booth, Steve is an avid reader and movie fanatic. Q&A